Article Written by Tanya Douglas
Depression is no laughing matter; many of us, or our loved ones, have suffered at the hands of this relentless, iron-fisted, and yet exquisitely stealthy enemy. It is difficult to spot the silent marauder, robbing us of our smiles, joy, and dignity. We take on a form of a shapeless shadow; we become colorless playdough no one wants to play with. Apathy, misery, anxiety, guilt, worthlessness, fatigue, fatalism - a big ball of nothingness. We ultimately become vague outlines of the person we used to be, drifting away in a weary, disheartening manner. Dear darkness, embrace my arrival. Poetic, but no; no, thank you! Instead, let's use this analogy. You're in an airplane. The flight you're on is the course of your life. If the plane's about to crash into the ocean - remember: there's a life vest under your seat. This is meditation for depression: why it works and how to start.
Can it help?
People often discard the idea of meditation without ever giving it a try. And we get it. Being
skeptical about intangible remedies is more than understandable; it's necessary. The rising
antagonism towards new age propaganda that sells Eastern philosophy and its sacred practices like NFL memorabilia comes off as disrespectful and charlatanic, to say the least. But, the earliest records of meditation practice date back as early as 5,000 BCE. 7000 years ago. Now, that's something to consider.
Although we cannot pinpoint the exact cause of depression, stress is considered a major trigger; all of us are exposed to various stressors daily, but it is our ability to cope with stress (of varying duration and intensity) the final deciding factor. Symptoms include:
● low self-esteem
● experiencing ruminations
● inexplicable perpetual sadness
● unable to feel enjoyment
● unable to make a decision
● anxiety and perpetual worry
● suicidal/self-harming thoughts
So, how can meditation help? By suggesting and introducing seemingly unimportant, even silly premises. Depression may be a gargantuan beast hovering over our trepid existence, but meditation, although ostensibly unarmed, brings light wherever there's darkness. And where there's light - there is life. Meditation, to put it simply, teaches us mindfulness. It equips us with nonjudgmental awareness; through practice, we become less biased and more objective; it rids us of all the intricate blind spots we keep tripping over. Digital meditation is a powerful tool against depression and other troublesome conditions of the mind, body, and soul.
Negative thinking pattern
When depression calls, we surrender to its whirlpool of self-loathing, anger, worthlessness, and helplessness, never expecting to leave its clenching fist again. Let alone live. Depression and anxiety are frequently linked with substance abuse. Behavioral health experts from
archstonerecovery.com report that 20 percent of individuals diagnosed with depression or
anxiety disorders also suffer from addiction. Meditation seems counterintuitive at first, as the
heightened awareness around negative experiences and thought patterns is something we're acutely trying to avoid. But, wait for it. Its intention is not to harm us but to teach us healthy coping mechanisms. Instead of pushing the fearsome thoughts away or suppressing them, meditation invites us to notice, pay attention and ultimately - embrace our dark parts without passing judgment or experiencing auto-wrath. We accept the thought, and we let it go. By practicing meditation, we can change the negative thinking pattern.
Vagus nerve stimulation
The Vagus nerve (the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system) oversees a vast array of vital bodily functions. When stimulated through meditation it can stabilize any abnormal activity of the brain, as well as regulate emotions and create a positive self-image. Meditation for depression? Tell me more. Okay; it also protects our hippocampus (memory and learning). Studies have shown that various mental disorders can prevent it from functioning correctly. Those who suffer from depression tend to have a smaller hippocampus; meditation can help develop new grey matter (meaning, off to the gym, hippocampus!).
How to start
Extremely important - get comfortable. Although it is recommended to sit down (in the early
learning stages, at least), if you feel you'd be more comfortable standing up or lying down, please do. Our sole goal is relaxation. So, find your pose. Closing your eyes should help immensely. Cancel out any outer stimuli that could potentially disrupt your goal.
It starts with a breath
Slow, deep breaths. Through the nose. We focus solely on breathing for at least 10 seconds.
Try focusing on the sound of your breath and how it feels to inhale and exhale. The moment you find your mind wandering, refocus. Go back. Pay attention to your breath. Remember, there's only you and your breathing.
When you master the breathing technique, you can shift focus to your body and all its beautiful parts. This is awareness. You can start from your toes, your head, and your fingertips. As you breathe and focus, take note of each body part and how it feels. Where do you feel the tension? Pain? Tingles? Itch? Feel it all. Use visualization techniques: picture sending relaxing breaths to the body part in need. Visualize that stomach cramp is subsiding and pain alleviating. Once you're done, go back to breathing.
Types of meditation
● Love-kindness meditation: focuses on creating a safe, loving, and caring environment for
● Walking meditation: combines mental and physical health; ideal for good weather
● Mindfulness meditation: it is the mother of many meditation forms that invites awareness
of the present moment and feeling it to the fullest.
● Sound Therapy: restores the body's vibration and improves mental health and emotional
● Chanting: regulates mood, introduces feelings of relaxation and focused attention.
● Guided meditation: provides the structure, is easy to follow, and lets you easily focus.
Meditation for depression explained
Be consistent. Meditation for depression needs to become your daily routine to work its magic. Habits (good ones!) are the core of healthy living. Try meditating at the same time every day. Before taking a shower, during lunch break, or minutes before going to bed - you choose. Find the rhythm that suits you; the 24-hour frame is your oyster. Once you find it, stick with it. Change is already here.
Thanks so much Tanya for such wonderful information! If you find that you resonate with this article and can use some guidance on meditation, please feel free to contact me to see how I can help!